September 1st, 2010
10:08 PM GMT
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Quest Means Business: Monday – Friday on CNN @ 2000 CET

Columbia University Professor and Economist Joseph Stiglitz gives the Quest audience his view on the state of the economy.
Columbia University Professor and Economist Joseph Stiglitz gives the Quest audience his view on the state of the economy.

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz joined us on Quest Means Business today. He told guest host Max Foster the U.S. needed more stimulus and that the country could “clearly” afford it. Stiglitz also said, both the U.S. and Europe need to focus on the “direction of spending” and believes there could be dire consequences if they don’t.

“I think it's more likely that the United States and Europe may sink into what might be called a Japanese-style malaise. Growth might be a little higher than in Japan, because in Japan, population/labor force growth was zero,” Stiglitz said.

In contrast, “We have, in the United States, a population - a labor force growth of around 1 percent. Growth in the last quarter was a little over that, 1.6 percent. But this growth is so slow that it won't be able to get the unemployment rate down. So that is where I think we're more likely to go - slow growth, not enough to get us back into a really healthy situation.”

Stiglitz said spending on wars was a lack of the direction of spending in the U.S. and Europe. “Obviously, if you're spending money on wars that don't really enhance your security, you're wasting money and debt is […] going up. If you redirected that money from those unproductive spending to more productive spending, the balance sheet can actually be improved.”

Foster asked Stiglitz if he still stood by the claim he once made that the true price of the Iraq war would exceed $3 trillion USD. Stiglitz stood by his findings saying the data that have come in suggest the cost could be even higher than he first believed. “The number that the politicians focus on is the actual expenditures that goes on the books. And what we did in our study is looked at the costs that go beyond that. For instance, almost 50 percent of those who fought in Iraq are coming back disabled. We're going to be paying for health care and disability payments for the rest of their lives.”

Stiglitz called his original estimates conservative. “The numbers coming back with these disabilities are significantly higher than we estimated. And the cost for each is higher than we estimated. So the numbers that have come in look like that $3 trillion was a conservative number.”

So what do you think? Did the spending on the war in Iraq help bring the U.S. and Europe into a recession? And could both regions be headed for a "Japanese-style malaise" as Stiglitz put it? QMB wants to know what you think. Leave us your thoughts in the comments section, join us on Facebook or Tweet Richard your thoughts to @RichardQuest. Be clever and we just might use your response in the show!

September 1st, 2010
05:39 PM GMT
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The South African government has increased its offer to striking public sector workers, in the latest effort to end a walkout that has crippled hospitals and schools across the country.

After repeatedly saying the country could not afford to increase wages to the levels demanded by the unions, the government has now increased its offer from 7 to 7.5 percent, which is nearly double the inflation rate – but less than the 8.6 percent rise unions have demanded.

The government has argued that the money spent on giving public servants wage increases could be used to create jobs, build more houses and help South Africa's poor.

The striking workers, who include teachers and nurses, contend that they are a critical part of South Africa's work force and that they are not earning a living wage.

Is the decision to offer a 7.5 percent increase the right one? Can you see a better way to resolve this dispute? I'd like to hear your views.

September 1st, 2010
03:39 PM GMT
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You can read and organize email from just about anywhere these days.
You can read and organize email from just about anywhere these days.

Gmail has announced a system for organizing email by importance, not by the order in which it arrived.

Ever since e-mail first came along, we've been beset by the tyranny of the digital: how to handle the vast and growing number of e-mails that pour in everyday.

Some, like Quest Means Business producer Gayle, use complicated colors, stars on prioritizing lists. They use labels to sort out their e-mails and then they load them into different folders to keep track of them.

Other people spend hours sifting through the barrage, hunched over their computers like battery chickens.

Then there are those of you who use the ignore method, you know, if it's that important, it will come back again.

Now, I don't have a system. I just look at the e-mails. I answer some. I ignore others. And I forward loads to my colleagues. It's called the Richard Quest passing the buck method. It works, a treat!

So will you use Gmail's new system? Another system? Or no system at all? Let me know in the comments section below.

Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable.

- Richard Quest

September 1st, 2010
04:51 AM GMT
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Simon Lui likes to be self-sufficient. He says, "If I need it, I develop it."  The 28-year old computer science instructor needed faster information about the MTR (Hong Kong's subway) so he simply designed an app for his iPod Touch.

The app - called ecMTR - gave him data on each stop, the fares and the arrival time of the next train.  Turns out other commuters wanted the same information and downloaded his 99 cent app more than 35,000 times.(The MTR itself recently asked Liu to disable his app so it could launch its own official MTR app. Lui says he didn't fight the request and obliged – although he still thinks his app is better.

Before disabling that app, Lui managed to pocket US$24,255 from all the downloads. (Apple has a 30/70 policy with app developers. Apple gets 30 percent of revenue while the developer pockets 70 percent.) In the past two years, Liu has designed six more paid apps from music games to war games netting him nearly US$40,000.

According to the Financial Times, app downloads could become the principal income driver for cell phone providers in developed countries over the next three years. That may not come entirely as a surprise when you look at the burgeoning marketplace of the apps. At last count, Apple's app store has 250,000 offerings.

Lui is a full-time computer science instructor at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He creates apps in his free time. His most popular is TinHa War (roughly translated to "World in Peace.") It's a war game from the 1980's that kids used to play on paper. Liu spent six months designing TinHa War, writing code for a few hours every night after work.  In the four months it's been available for downloads, Lui has made US$12,500 on this app alone.

So can anyone be an app developer? Lui says you need a combination of persistence and skill. Here's his advice:

1) Have a clear idea of what you want to create

2) Learn Objective C code(this is the code needed for iPhone, iPod and iPad apps) Although Lui describes the code as difficult to learn he taught himself the language by using Stanford University tutorials online, found here:

3) Keep practicing the code.  You'll get better by trial and error.

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